I blog this as it is important information, before the meeting that Beecholme Survivors have with Wandsworth Council on tomorrow evening 6th December.
[Please note updates at end on 7th Dec 2017 and 8th Dec]
Contact Beecholme Survivors firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @beecholme12
Way back on Aug 3 I asked Wandsworth Council
Please could you tell me the titles, dates and authors of any reports you hold on Beechholme House Childrens home
This would include
Any reports commissioned or held on child abuse at beecholme
Any inspection reports held, authored by SSI or equivalent London County Council
Any reports about Beecholme other purposes to the social services committee or equivalent
Any Annual Reports
Possible search terms are both spellings -Beechholme, Beecholme,
Beechholme Fir Tree Road, Banstead, Surrey
Beechholme Childrens Community
Beechholme Childrens Home
Cedar House, Jasmine House
They replied 
This information is not held by Wandsworth Council. The information may be
available from the London Metropolitan Archives 
It needs someone local to check at the archives  to see what is archived there, but it was barely conceivable to me that Wandsworth did not hold anything. I therefore asked for an internal review of the decision.
I am writing to request an internal review of Wandsworth Borough Council’s handling of my FOI request ‘Beechholme House Childrens Home’. It is scarcely believable that you have no records of any child abuse report titles. If so then it would appear that the Council is negligent, Please internally review my request.
The Council took 6 weeks to reply, longer than the allowed 4 weeks by law, but at least they apologised for the delay and adnitted the original decision was wrong ie they did hold information. 2017 Dec 5 FOI Internal Review Reply 
They previously either were incompetent or deliberately lied. What other information are they hiding? I would suggest that Beecholme Survivors ask for the information to be given to them (ie not under FOI.)
Wandsworth refuse even to give me the title, dates or authors of the Report(s) claiming exemtion under S31 – disclosure in relation to law enforcement.
I am not even sure that this exemption applies, so I will read up and may challenge this. It also has omitted the public interest test.
S6 “Section 31 is a prejudice based exemption and is subject to the public interest test. This means that not only does the information have to prejudice one of the purposes listed, but, before the information can be withheld, the public interest in preventing that prejudice must outweigh the public interest in disclosure.” https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1207/law-enforcement-foi-section-31.pdf
The reply is –
I have conducted a detailed review of Wandsworth Council’s response having regard to the specific requirements of the FOI Act. I am writing to advise you that the Council does hold the information requested in the form of a report relating to the non-recent abuse at Beecholme Care Home. However, having regard to the current situation regarding Beecholme, my decision is that the report is exempt under section 31 of the FOI Act. Section 31 expressly provides that information will be exempt from disclosure in a number of cases relating to law enforcement. In this case, having reviewed the current situation in respect of Beecholme Care Home, my decision is that the following three aspects of section 31 all apply:
Law enforcement – Section 31 Freedom of Information Act
This section has no associated Explanatory Notes
(1) Information which is not exempt information by virtue of section 30 is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice—
(a) The prevention or detection of crime,
(b) The apprehension or prosecution of offenders,
(c) The administration of justice,
Therefore, the outcome of my internal review is that the initial decision reached by the Council in its consideration of the FOI request was incorrect. This is on the basis that through the internal review process I undertook, it has transpired that the Council does hold the information requested. However, having carefully considered the circumstances surrounding Beecholme Care Home, my decision is that the information cannot be released because it is expressly exempt under section 31 of the FOI Act (that it would, or would be likely to, prejudice law enforcement).
Having established that the exemption at section 31 applies, I have undertaken a further test to determine whether or not the prejudice or harm specified in the exemption would, or would be likely to, occur. In undertaking this further test, I have based my approach on that adopted by the the Information Tribunal in Christopher Martin Hogan and Oxford City Council v the Information Commissioner (EA/2005/0026 and 0030, 17 October 2006) (“Hogan”), at paragraphs 28-34. I have therefore taken the following steps, specifically to:
- Identify the “applicable interests” within the relevant exemption. The applicable interests are those relating to the prevention or detection of crime; the apprehension or prosecution of offenders; and the administration of justice.
- Show that the prejudice claimed is “real, actual or of substance”. Given the seriousness of the matters in question, there can be no doubt that the prejudice fits the definition of being “real, actual or of substance”.
- Show that there is a “causal link” between the disclosure and the prejudice claimed. Given the non-recent nature of the matters in question, any disclosure of information would be likely to cause anyone who had in any way been involved in the matters, to be forewarned of any matters under consideration.
- Decide on the “likelihood of the occurrence of prejudice”. Any disclosure of information relating to the serious matters in question would be likely to have a direct and prejudicial impact on any further consideration of action.
Whilst I have been unable to elaborate in respect of the full detail applying to the tests set out at points 1 to 4 above, I hope you will appreciate this is for the essential reason of seeking to avoid the very prejudice that would be caused if the information was released – this is entirely in accordance with the statutory requirements. As you may be aware, the Information Commissioner’s view is that information released via FOI is effectively released to the world at large.
If you can, please spread my posts on various social media that you use, this is a means by which everyone can bring attention to child sexual abuse – thankyou.
Update 7th Dec
Having written again to ask for the omitted public interest test, and more explanation of the exemption and the reports, I received a prompt reply. This gives more details of the Report held which is 6 pages long and they have some more information relevant to child abuse, which the Council also consider exempted. They give more details as to the reasons for exemption.
However if the reason is to prevent detection of crime and apprehend offenders and prosecute- why was it not done 40 years ago?
The subsections relied on in this case are s31 (1) (a) (b) and (c) as
Section 31 Law enforcement.
(1) Information which is not exempt information by virtue of section 30 is
exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be
likely to, prejudice—
(a) the prevention or detection of crime,
(b) the apprehension or prosecution of offenders,
(c) the administration of justice,
The public interest test
Section 31 Arguments in favour of disclosure:
· There is a general presumption in the FOI Act that disclosure of
information is in the public interest.
· There is a public interest in the disclosure of information
which leads to transparency about how public organisations conduct their
Section 31 Arguments against disclosure:
· It is considered that disclosure of the information in question
would be likely to prevent the detection of crime; the apprehension or
prosecution of offenders; and the administration of justice.
· It is considered that disclosure of the information in question
would be likely to prejudice ongoing investigations into the matters
regarding Beecholme Care Home.
· Given that the investigations concern non-recent matters,
relating to over 40 years ago, and the consequent fact that obtaining
evidence is that much more difficult in such historical cases, any
disclosure would be likely to make the efforts to gather evidence much
more difficult or simply no longer possible.
· It is considered that disclosure of the information in question
would be likely to have a profound and detrimental impact on any victims
who were identified as a result of the disclosure.
The balance of the public interest test is against disclosure in this case
given the likely prejudice that would be caused to law enforcement
activities as noted above, as well as the impact on any victims.
Information held by the local authority
The Council holds one report and some further information not held as part
of a report. It is considered that all such information is exempt from
disclosure under s31 (1) (a) (b) and (c). The release of either the report
or any other information held would be likely to have the impacts
identified under ‘Arguments against disclosure’ as noted above. The
report is six pages long. The date investigations started is not held.
Please note that victims of abuse may be triggered by reading this information. These links are generally UK based.
I have written back with the following –
Thank you for the prompt detail.
The correct original reply should have been received by approx 3 Sept, were the investigations in progress then and by who?
Has the report and other information been given to police and or the CSA Inquiry?
Which bodies are you saying that the FOI release of this information would hamper?
Has the Council contacted the London Met Archives to see what information that they may hold on the abuse, which may be useful for the Council, Survivors Groups, Police and CSA Inquiry? If so what is that list, including titles and dates and the number of relevant reports and pieces of information?
Updated 2017 Dec 8
Wandsworth Council replied that the Report has not been shared with other bodies, ie csa inquiry and perhaps includes the police, it is not clear. Nor have the council checked what documents are with Londpn Met Archives – which survivors/campaigners obviously need to check. The response is as follows.
You’re welcome and I hope you will appreciate that whilst I have been
seeking to respond to your enquiries in as helpful a way as possible, I
must take care to do so having regard to the legal requirement not to
prejudice ongoing enquiries into the matter. However, I have noted
responses to your further questions below.
– Yes, enquiries in respect of law enforcement were in progress by 3rd
– The report held by the authority is an internal document. The report
itself has not been shared with any other bodies, although some of the
information it contains will have been shared, where strictly necessary,
for the purposes of law enforcement.
– Release of the report would be likely to prejudice the progress of
ongoing enquiries in respect of law enforcement.
– The Council’s current and ongoing focus is on the matter of law
enforcement; I have not been able to establish that any Council officers
have sought to obtain archived material from the London Metropolitan
Archives in respect of this matter.
- The Sanctuary for the Abused [A] has advice on how to prevent triggers.
- National Association for People Abused in Childhood [B] has a freephone helpline and has links to local support groups.
- One in Four [C]
- Havoca [D].
- Useful post on Triggers [E] from SurvivorsJustice [F] blog.
- Jim Hoppers pages on Mindfulness [G] and Meditation [H] may be useful.
- Hwaairfan blog An Indigenous Australian Approach to Healing Trauma [J]
- Survivors UK for victims and survivors of male rape or the sexual abuse of men [K]
- Voicing CSA group [L] helps arrange survivors meetings in your area
- A Prescription for me blog Various emotional support links [M]
- ShatterBoys -“Male Survivors Of Childhood Sexual Abuse Inspiring change, Through Shared Experience Whilst Building Connections…Together We Can Heal” [N]
- Fresh Start Foundation Scottish not for profit group, helping child sexual abuse victims & survivors [P]
 2017 Aug 3 Cathy Fox FOI https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/beechholme_house_childrens_home#outgoing-674764
 2017 Aug 31 FOi Reply https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/beechholme_house_childrens_home#incoming-1030067
 2017 Oct 20 FOI Internal Review Request https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/beechholme_house_childrens_home#outgoing-700080
 2017 Dec 5 FOI Internal Review Reply https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/beechholme_house_childrens_home#outgoing-700080
 2017 Dec 6 Further reply WDTK https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/beechholme_house_childrens_home#incoming-1081180
[A] Sanctuary for the Abused http://abusesanctuary.blogspot.co.uk/2006/07/for-survivors-coping-with-triggers-if.html
Let justice be done though the heavens fall – Fiat justitia ruat cælum